Pokemon Go Gets the Red Light in China

Wanna catch ‘em all? Not in mainland China, you won’t.

The ruling Communist Party’s top media watch dog has officially put Pikachu to sleep, saying the augmented reality game will never see the light of day there. The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) announced Pokémon Go and similar games won’t get approved for release.

It cited a threat to “geographic information security,” a threat not to be taken lightly by China’s heads of state.

Some locations, particularly those housing secret Chinese military bases, don’t even show up on Chinese mapping systems. Whether they are home to a real-life Mewtwo is up for debate, but some social media chatter even suggests Pokémon Go is an elaborate American conspiracy to harness Chinese military secrets.

On a more credible front, a Chinese expert in artificial intelligence told the Global Times that Pokémon Go could very well be used to steal military secrets if someone intended. That claim was made back in July when the rest of the world took a plunge into the frenzy that became Pokémon Go. A time that saw headlines about Snorlax stampedes in Taipei, 349 would-be Pokémon masters fined for driving while playing the game, and even a Hong Kong teen falling into a river while playing. What a summer – China never got to see it. Perhaps, high-ranking Communist Party officials did though. One can only wonder.

About Andrew Burke 145 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Burke is a lifelong aficionado of all things Chinese. He studied Mandarin while living in Taiwan for six years and now works as a digitization specialist at the Yenching Library, which specializes in Asian books and documents, at Harvard University where he also studies topics related to China, Chinese, Asia and foreign affairs.